New research suggests that probiotic microorganisms, such as those more commonly used in yoghurt, could help bone marrow transplant for patients with blood cancers.
Some patients with lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia are treated with an "allogeneic" bone marrow transplant where the donor is a blood relative or is unrelated but has the same tissue type.
One problem that can arise is "graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)". Here donated cells can generate an immune attack against cancer cells in the patient, but can also attack normal healthy cells & tissues.
According to the research brief, when the GI tract malfunctions, bacteria in the colon can invade the body and cause severe infections that activate the immune system. GVHD can then progress to the liver & other organs. This is where probiotics comes in.
Probiotics are known to reduce the growth of certain types of bacteria. Due to this, scientists are looking at the right type of probiotic bacteria that meet the requirements of what has been dubbed "PERFECT" (for Probiotic Enteric Regimen For Easing Complications of Transplant).
Scientists hope to build on the initial findings to identify methods of preventing infection. The research has been conducted by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
5 April 2013